Skip to content

    Breast Cancer Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Suspicious Mammogram Result: Now What?

    What to expect when you need to get additional diagnostic tests.
    By Jen Uscher
    WebMD Feature
    Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

    You get your routine annual mammogram and, soon after, you receive a call or letter from your doctor’s office. You’re told that a potential abnormality was found on your mammogram and you need to make an appointment for further testing. Although it’s unnerving to get this news, experts say you shouldn’t panic.

    "If you’re called back for additional mammogram views or a biopsy, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have cancer," says Sandhya Pruthi, MD, associate professor in the division of general internal medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and a breast health specialist. Pruthi also notes that although "the process of getting these additional tests can cause anxiety for some women, it’s short-lived -- in most cases, the work up can be done within two weeks."

    Recommended Related to Breast Cancer

    10 Mammogram Myths and Facts

    You may have a million excuses not to get that annual mammogram, but your reasons may not be as good as you think. Don't blow off your appointment before you get the facts behind these myths and defenses.

    Read the 10 Mammogram Myths and Facts article > >

    According to the American Cancer Society, about 10% of women who have a mammogram will be called back for more tests. But only 8% to 10% of those women will need a biopsy and 80% of those biopsies turn out be benign.

    To help you prepare for your follow up appointment, WebMD asked several doctors to describe the tests you may receive and to share their tips on making the process easier.

    At Your Follow-Up Appointment

    You’re likely to receive another mammogram (called a "diagnostic mammogram") and an ultrasound at your follow-up appointment, says Pruthi. The diagnostic mammogram might take longer than your routine screening mammogram did, because the technician may take more X-rays of the breast. He or she might, for example, magnify a specific area to get a more detailed picture or repeat the same views from the screening mammogram because those images weren’t clear enough.

    Just as you did for the screening mammogram, you’ll need to undress above the waist and stand in front of the mammography machine. The technician will place your breast between two plates. The plates compress the breast to spread out the tissue for a few seconds while the X-ray is taken. These steps are then repeated for any additional X-rays of each breast.

    1 | 2 | 3 | 4

    Today on WebMD

    Breast Cancer Overview
    From mammograms to living after treatment.
    Dealing with breast cancer
    Get answers to your questions.
     
    woman having mammogram
    The 3 latest tips to know.
    woman undergoing breast cancer test
    Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
     
    Resolved To Quit Smoking
    VIDEO
    Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
    Article
     
    Woman getting mammogram
    Article
    Screening Tests for Women
    Article
     
    serious woman
    Article
    Pink badge on woman chest to support breat cancer
    QUIZ
     
    what is your cancer risk
    Article
    breast cancer survivors
    Article